A recent study on workplace learning rated the importance of 10 different sources of learning. The results may surprise you. Company training (including both classroom and e-learning) ranks dead last and is closely followed by low scores for internal job aids, company documents, and external courses. Basically, the message is learning that is formal, supervised, or prescribed is less appealing than other sources.
What are the most important learning sources? Knowledge sharing among team members far outranks everything else. This is followed by individual web searches, general conversations and meetings, and personal and professional networks.
There are two key messages in this study, including:
(1) People prefer to be in charge of their own learning
(2) People prefer to learn from and explore with others
Although it will always be important in organizations to identify and manage key learning and development programs, it is just as critical to support knowledge sharing among people and teams across the organization. People in general have become more confident and skilled in accessing information on their own. For example, you can Google just about anything from almost anywhere. What people gain as they interact with others is perspective on what to do with the knowledge they have and encouragement and support to act on it.
Coaching, feedback, mentoring, and teamwork are simple, yet effective, ways to support and increase knowledge sharing and interactive learning. A dedicated focus on these strategies can make the difference between:
• Acquiring knowledge and developing wisdom
• Knowing what to do and actually doing it
• Understanding desired results and actually achieving them
For leaders, it is more important than ever to encourage and promote interactive and shared learning among team members. However, the objective is clearly not just about helping people acquire knowledge. The greater opportunity lies in helping people apply what they know. This almost always happens outside of the classroom.